Monday, March 31, 2008

It Was A Great Ride.

The Terps' remarkable season, which included a jam-packed pre-conference schedule against tough opponents, perfection at home, and numerous record-breaking performances, ended in Spokane tonight as Maryland's high-octane offense was overpowered by Stanford's even higher-octane offense, 98-87.

It was the last college game for Lang, Harp, Jade, and Ashleigh. They leave with a Natty, and that makes them very special. Lang and Harp (and, we hope, Jade), we'll see you soon in the WNBA. Ashleigh, may you also follow your dreams.

It's been an incredible four years. Thank you for all the joy.

"When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth."

Once tonight's Elite Eight matchup between the Terps and the Cardinal had been set by the teams' respective wins on Saturday, the BasketCases began wondering whether Maryland and Stanford had ever played each other before. Certainly not in recent memory. Well, thanks to Ann Killion in the San Jose Mercury News, we've learned that the teams have met once, back in 1982, "back when dinosaurs roamed the earth," according to Ann. Well, at least back before the players were even born.

And there are plenty of other interesting tidbits to be learned from this morning's preview articles, including the importance of rebounding, who lost which recruit to whom, which Hollywood actors the teams have adopted, which opposing players are childhood friends, and which played on USA Basketball together.

But of course all of these relationships will not matter once that ball is thrown in the air in Spokane at 9:30 PM EDT. It's going to be a very late night. Start the caffeine drip now!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Among the Elite!

Obviously freed of the enormous pressure they felt to get past the second round of the NCAA Tourney, the Terps came out tonight in Spokane for their Sweet Sixteen matchup against Vanderbilt ready, relaxed and focused.

As a result, they played a complete game, 40 minutes of Maryland basketball, including some very good defense (not always the Terps' strong suit!). Quite frankly, Vandy simply was never in the game. The Terps built a double digit lead early, a lead they never relinquished, and won 80-66.

Kristi Toliver patiently and effectively controlled the Terps' offense, feeding the ball inside to Lang and Harp, who finished with 28 and 11 points, respectively. Two other starters also scored in double figures, as Marissa Coleman put up 19 points, and Marah Strickland had 13. For Terps fans, this game was nothing but fun to watch. For fans of other teams, well, it was probably a little boring.

Tonight's win sends the Terps to an Elite Eight matchup on Monday night against the winner of the Stanford/Pitt game that is being played as we write this blog. Congratulations to the Terps on advancing to the Regional Finals!!

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Sunday Morning Update. As expected, #2 seeded Stanford beat #6 seeded Pitt last night; the final score was 72-53. This sets up an all-red Regional Final between the Terps and the Cardinal on Monday night at 9:30 PM EDT. (Another late night for the BasketCases and other Maryland fans on the East Coast!)

This morning's Billings Gazette has a wonderful feature about Montana-native Daron Park and his whirlwind first year with the Terps. Coach Park, as we all know, wound up getting a lot more than he was expecting (did we really say that?) when he accepted an assistant coaching job with Maryland last May, only to be told two months later by Coach B that she was pregnant. Coach Park rose to the challenge and without a doubt is a huge part of the Terps' great success this season.

Finally, in his all too often tedious long column in Sunday's Washington Post, former Sports editor George Solomon states: "Who would have thought that the two local college baskeball teams left standing when the weekend began would be the Maryland and George Washington women." Well, quite frankly, George, people who actually follow women's college basketball, which apparently does not include you.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jade to Ashleigh: "Who is this guy?"

Ashleigh to Jade: " I don't know, but he's supposed to be famous. I'll ask Laura."

Ashleigh to Laura: "Is this guy famous?"

Laura: "I think so. Maybe Crystal knows."

Laura to Crystal: "Do you know who he is?"

Crystal: "Not really, but he seems nice."

Marissa to Emery: "Who is he?"

Emery: "Don't you recognize him? Didn't you ever watch Nickelodeon when you were a kid? He's The Fonz!!! This is soooo cool. I can't wait to tell my Mom and Dad! The Terps with Henry Winkler. They won't believe it!"

Photo Credit: A Terps fan

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Saturday Morning Update . . . With the Sweet Sixteen starting today, and the Terps playing Vandy in Spokane at 9 PM EDT, there's plenty to read. The Baltimore Sun has a column by Rick Maese about Maryland's need to play 40 minutes of basketball in a single game in order to survive and advance at this stage of the tourney, while Milton Kent sees a lot of the 2006 Terps in this season's Commodores. (Let's hope not too much.) Over on, Mechelle Voepel is also giving a bit too much love to Vandy. In The Tennessean, Vandy Coach Melanie Balcomb compares the Terps to the Lady Vols. (We're pretty sure she meant it as a compliment.) Meanwhile, the Washington Post's Kathy Orton has a very nice feature on Maryland's "unsung heroes," Jade Perry and Ashleigh Newman.

And no doubt there's local coverage of the Spokane Region teams in the Spokesman Review, but that paper actually charges for access to its web site, and that fee is just not in the BasketCases' budget! But from out on the West Coast there does come an entertaining column by Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle, who loves women's basketball coaches and reports on the speculation going on in Spokane about how (or what?) The Twins are eating while they are back home in Maryland while Mom-Coach B is several thousand miles away.

Wave Bye-Bye!

On the front page of today's sports section, Washington Post columnist Mike Wise has a long, interesting, and extremely flattering article about how media-savvy and accessible Coach B is, to the point of having allowed as much of the births of Markus and Tyler to be filmed for Under the Shell as could be shown on television. While Terps fans will know much of what Wise reports, this is still a piece that no Terps fan should miss. In fact, we did learn one important bit of news from Mike: the Twins are not making the trip to Spokane for the Sweet Sixteen. Guess they will be watching on TV along with the rest of us who aren't able to go either!

The team, of course, is already out there, and Gary Lambrecht of the Baltimore Examiner writes today about Maryland's extraordinary senior class, while Crystal Langorne is the subject of an article in the Burlington County Times. Meanwhile, Milton Kent of the Baltimore Sun focuses on one of the extraordinary junior stars, Marissa Coleman, who happens to have family out in Spokane. Apparently, Marissa had extra incentive to spark that winning run in the game on Tuesday!!

Photo Credit: Gail Burton, AP

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Speaking of flattering articles about (former) Maryland coaches . . . Another coach very familiar to Maryland fans and whose team has also made it to the Sweet Sixteen is Jeff Walz, whose success as an Assistant Coach on Maryand's Natty-winning team helped propel him to the head coaching job at Louisville. Graham Hays on has a very forthright feature about Jeff's lifelong struggles as a stutterer. It goes without saying that we wish Jeff and his Cardinals good luck against the Tar Heels this weekend!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Harp & Lang.

Having spent a good bit of time in England, the BasketCases have always thought that The Harp & Lang would be a perfect name for your friendly neighborhood British pub. Indeed, there may be such a place tucked away in some nice green hamlet. We don't know. What we do know, however, is that Harp & Lang is the name of one of the best frontcourt tandems in the country. And in today's Philadelphia Inquirer, Mike Jensen tells the wonderful story of how two of the country's top high school players rejected the nation's college basketball powerhouses to take a chance on Coach Frese, Maryland, and the dream of a first national championship. The overall tale is one that is familiar to most Terps fans, but Jensen's re-telling is well worth the read. And in another retrospective, Greg Schimmel in today's Diamondback takes a look at Lang's development into the star she is today.

It's been four years since their high school days in the Philly suburbs, and Harp and Lang are major reasons why Maryland is now mentioned in the same breath as those other college basketball powerhouses. Thank you, Harp and Lang!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Threw Through the Ringer Wringer.

Dear readers, the BasketCases beg your indulgence. Normally, as you know, we try our best after games to link to post-game articles not only from the D.C.-area papers but also from the opponent's local region. However, last night's game against Nebraska did us in. It didn't end until nearly midnight Tuesday, which meant we didn't get home until Wednesday morning, and of course, being duty-bound to our readers, we opted for blogging over sleeping. And since we actually do have day jobs (really, we do), that left no time for our usual morning-after search of newspapers from the Cornhusker state.

But thanks to fellow Terp fan Gerri, we now bring you two not-to-be-missed articles from our nation's heartland. The first, from the Lincoln Journal Star, reports that the "gallant Huskers" pushed Maryland like the team "hadn't [been pushed] all year" at Comcast (making us wonder how many games at Comcast writer Curt McKeever has actually seen). The other article, in the Omaha World-Herald, was written by Steve Takaba, to whom the BasketCases are delighted to present the prestigious Morton Salt Award for the Homonym Impaired for writing that the Huskers last night put Coach B "through the ringer." Yes, Steve, yesterday's game may have put Coach Freeze Frese threw through the ringer wringer, but she and her players survived a tough game against your Huskers and now advance to play in Spoke Can Spokane this weekend in the Sweet Sixteen. Suite!

Survivor Comcast.

It sure wasn't pretty, but the Terps outplayed and outlasted the Nebraska Cornhuskers tonight to survive the Second Round of the NCAA Tourney, 76-64. Maryland started out strong, leading us to think that, at last, this final game of the season at Comcast would be one of those statement games that the Terps would control decisively, from start to finish. But alas, it was not to be, as Maryland yet again allowed their opponent to close the gap. At the half, the Terps were up only by one, having led by as many as 15.

Maryland continued to struggle after the break until Marissa Coleman finally took over, hitting a big three, followed by another bucket on the very next possession, and making her presence felt on the defensive end. Her energy sparked a mini run that put the Terps up for good. By winning tonight, Maryland not only advances in the Tournament, but also completes an undefeated season at home.

Marissa and Kristi each finished the game with 19 points. And Crystal Langhorne capped her astounding career at Comcast with yet another double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds), and left the game to a well-earned and predictable standing ovation. Indeed, the BasketCases were teary eyed (literally) as we watched this incredible group of women playing together for the very last time in the Maryland arena.

But this very special team does have at least one more game (and hopefully 4 more) to play together. Next up in Spokane, as the win tonight punches the Terps' ticket to the Sweet Sixteen, and a matchup this Saturday against Vandy.

Outplay, Outlast . . . the Regionals await!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Things That Matter.

As most Maryland fans already know, the Terps drew the second game of Round Two tonight, which means that they won't be tipping off against the Cornhuskers until about 9:30 PM.

That's pretty darn late, and in fact Maryland was hoping for the 7 PM game. But ESPN had other ideas. Seems the network wants all those folks on Tobacco Road to be able to see both the Duke game (v. Arizona State) and the Carolina game (v. Georgia) on TV tonight. So those teams have to play at different times, and since Carolina will be playing at 9 PM (in Norfolk) and Duke will be playing here at Comcast, the Terps will play after Duke.

Of course, this doesn't explain why Carolina and Maryland couldn't both play the early game at their respective venues. But we've given up trying to understand the powers that be in TV land. Putting all that aside, the only things that really matter are that the Terps will be playing in the second round of the NCAA Tourney tonight, at home in Comcast, and their fans will have the opportunity to be there.

While we're excited about tonight's game, we have to admit we're also a little sad to think that no matter what the outcome, this is the very last college game at Comcast for Maryland seniors Crystal, Laura, Jade and Ashleigh, and the very last chance for all of us to see those remarkable young women play at home in Comcast on Maryland's floor.

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The great "Turtle IQ" controversy continues. Read more here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

We Interrupt the Big Dance . . .

Much as we hate to break into our continuing coverage of the NCAA Tournament, the BasketCases would be remiss if we did not report that the Mystics announced today that starting point guard Nikki Teasley and the team have "agreed to part ways." According to Mystics GM Linda Hargrove, the move was not related to Nikki's pregnancy.

As our loyal readers know, the Mystics recently signed Lynx reserve PG Amber Jacobs, no doubt knowing that DC would be a little needy at the one spot this season.

The BasketCases will miss Nikki and her 1,000 watt smile, and we wish her all the best.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Sunday, March 23, 2008

First Round, University of Maryland, College Park

Session One, Game One. A matchup between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Xavier Musketeers. Unfortunately, the Muskateers sleepwalked through the first 37 minutes or so, as the Huskers maintained a comfortable lead. However, with just a few minutes to go, Xavier finally woke up and started to close the gap. They gave the Huskers a scare, but by then it was too late, and the Huskers survived, 61-58. Except for those last few minutes, it wasn't a particularly interesting game. The two team mascots, however, were interesting and did provide a good bit of entertainment for the house filled mostly with Terps fans.

The BasketCases' Mascot of the Day Award without question goes to Xavier's Blue Blob.

Second Place goes to the Cornhuskers' Lil Red, who bears a striking resemblance to Bob's Big Boy. Midwestern cousins, perhaps?

Session One, Game Two. An all local affair, the Terps vs Baltimore's Coppin State. In one of those rubber band games that have become all too familiar for Maryland fans, the Terps raced out to an early lead against a lower-ranked opponent, then put their game into park, as their opponent snapped back to close the gap, or even, as the CSU Eagles did, take the lead. Maryland regained the lead late in the first half and at the break was up by 5. With a little more aggressive play and better defense the Terps stretched the lead to nearly 20 in the second half, winning 80-66.

The win gave Coach B her 200th career victory. In addition, Kristi Tolliver's second (of 7) assists broke the 30-year-old (!!) Maryland and ACC record for most assists in a single season (249) previously held by Tara Heiss. Congratulations to Coach B and Kristi!

Though only 30 miles away in Baltimore, Coppin State did not travel with a mascot. (Do they even have one?) But this Eagles fan (one of many) came dressed for the event and was a one-woman cheering section, despite being surrounded by a sea of red people.

Between the two sessions, the Rebounders fired up the grills beside the parking lot to participate in their second favorite sport -- eating! And the weather more than cooperated . . . it was a beautiful Easter Sunday evening.

Session Two, Game One. A 7 PM match between the Duke Blue Devils and the Murray State Racers. The Maryland fans gave the Blue Devils a warm Comcast Center welcome, as boos rained down on the court when Duke was introduced, each time Dook got a call or no-call, and in the final minutes when Coach P ordered her team to continue pressing an opponent already trailing by 20. The Racers were a feisty bunch of lilliputians mostly short players who gave up miles of height to Duke. Their only weakness, however, was that they could not knock down their shots, whether in the open court or point blank layups. Otherwise, they were great! Duke won, 78-57.

We do have to give a special shout out to Murray State for one thing, however -- faced with a budgetary crisis that might have led to the elimination of a sports team on some campuses, they came up with the innovative solution of merging their cheerleading squad with their Sumo wrestling team. The BasketCases weren't the only Terps fans impressed by the Murray Steak State Sumo Cheerleaders!

And now we have a confession to make: We left before the nightcap game between Temple and Arizona State (it is a school night after all), so that's pretty much it for our first-person report.

But we will return on Tuesday when Maryland meets Nebraska in the second round and Duke plays the winner of tonight's Temple/Arizona State match-up.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases
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Monday Morning Update: Arizona State beat Temple, so they will face Duke on Tuesday night at 7PM in the first of the two 2nd round games. The Terps' game against the Huskers is scheduled to tip off at 9:30 PM.

And speaking of Dook, Coach Joanne P. McCallie reacted to the boos the Blue Devils received Sunday night at Comcast by saying, "that must be the Turtle IQ." Well, Coach P, if you think the Terps would have been warmly (and politely) received had yesterday’s games been played at Cameron Indoor, we have only one thing to say to you: denial is not a river in Egypt. (Bite me!)

Q: Dee Liles, now that you've won a JUCO National Championship, been named Tournament MVP and you were voted JUCO Player-of-the-Year, what are you going to do next?

A: I'm going to Disneyworld Maryland!

Congratulations to Dee, to all her Lady 'Dores teammates and to Coach Roonie Scovel on their absolutely fabulous performance. Well done, ladies!

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Speaking of going to Maryland . . . The BasketCases will of course be heading to College Park this afternoon for the 2:30 PM NCAA Tourney first round matchup between the Terps and Coppin State. We have to say, though, that we were a bit surprised by Coppin State Coach Derek Brown's remarks in today's Washington Post about playing 30 miles from his campus:

"I think it's just spend as little money as you can and get the lower seeds out of the way, and let's go on from there."

Derek is sure a "glass half empty" guy, isn't he? Here the BasketCases thought, how nice for the Eagles team to be playing so close to home, providing their fans and families a real opportunity to see them play in person in the Big Dance. Does Derek really think many of those fans would have traveled across the country for this first round game??

While you're on the Post's web site, don't miss Kathy Orton's excellent profile of Marissa Coleman. Oklahoma Coach Sherri Coale says that Marissa is "a little like Magic Johnson." We couldn't agree more! Maryland teammate Kristi Toliver is the subject of Rick Maese's column in the Baltimore Sun today, while Milton Kent examines the Terps' mindset going into the tournament and Mike Fratto writes in the Washington Times that the Terps refuse to look ahead.

Happy Easter! Let the games begin!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Round 1 of the 2008 NCAA Tournament kicks off tomorrow. The Terps don't play until Sunday, but the Big Dance officially gets underway Saturday at noon.

And that means we are now entering that one-and-done time of year. Every team, no matter what their ranking -- whether they're a Number 1 seed like Maryland or a Number 16 seed like Coppin State -- knows when they step on the court that if they win, they survive and advance, but if they lose, their season's over, their seniors have played their last game, and their underclassmen and their fans can only look forward to next year. But that's what makes post-season play so exciting! So to get in some practice before the Terps' Easter Sunday opener, you can catch plenty of other teams' action on ESPN and ESPN2 beginning Saturday at noon EDT.

Now if you're wondering why we chose to use Blue (not red) in the graphic for this post, the explanation is that we want to give a BasketCases shout-out to pre-Terp and JUCO Player of the Year Dee Liles and her Gulf Coast CC teammates. Tonight the 3rd seeded Lady 'Dores upset the 2nd seeded University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, 72-67, in a nail-biter of a contest to advance to tomorrow's National Junior College Championship final. Unfortunately we don't believe there's any TV coverage for Dee's game, but if you'd like to listen in, try the link here beginning at 8 PM EDT tomorrow for WKGC's web broadcast of the radio play-by-play. Congratulations to Dee and the 'Dores (sounds like a girl-group from the 60s!) and good luck tomorrow in the final!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

From the Mail Bag. As our loyal readers know, the BasketCases recently presented one of our prestigious Golden Twinkie Awards for Journalistic Accuracy to Robert Weintraub of the New York Times. Rob, as you'll recall, wrote a piece about the upcoming NCAA Tournament published on March 2, 2008 in which he stated that Maryland Head Coach Brenda Frese was due to give birth to twins in early March -- a full two weeks after the much-publicized births of Markus and Tyler.

Well, Rob recently sent us an email noting that he could not in good conscience accept the Golden Twinkie without an explanation. He has graciously given us permission to share his email with all of you. So here it is; we think you'll agree that Rob is not only one funny dude, but he's also a heck of a good sport:


I have been forwarded mention that I received the illustrious Golden Twinkie Award, handed out by your blog to the dismay of all of us who prefer to receive actual Twinkies (actually, give me Yodels or give me death).

However, in my defense, I feel compelled to point out that the article in question had to be written, for the sake of the long lead time Play (the NY Times sports magazine, in contrast to the daily NYT) demands for graphics and printing purposes, in early-February. The careful reader will note the vagueness of the copy, and the leaving out of teams and players that weren't tourney locks before Valentine's Day. Therefore, while I anticipated Brenda's birth would be premie, as most twins happen to be induced for (dubious, in my opinion) medical reasons, I could not guarantee it--hence, the word "due".

As it happens, Brenda gave birth the weekend of the final lockdown of the issue, and I passed along the good news of a safe birth to my editors. but it was deemed that the change would be too problematic to make, for layout reasons, at that late a date. This is a decision I was not privy to, and happen to not agree with--you should always make the change if you know it will look bad/inaccurate. However, there wasn't much I could do about it--I am a freelancer, not a Times employee, and therefore carry little weight in the offices of the Gray Lady.

So while I accept the trophy in absentia, I cannot, in good faith, keep it without the explanation.

All the best,

Rob Weintraub

Monday, March 17, 2008

Whooo-hoooo! Maryland is the #1 Seed in the Spokane Region!

Not that we don't think Maryland is one of the 4 best teams in the nation . . . we do. But did we think the selection committee would think that too? Well, to be honest, no. So, yes, we are surprised. But this is a happy surprise! Wow!

Now here's what you need to know:

First up for the Terps at Comcast Center on Easter Sunday (March 23rd): Coppin State from the great state of . . . Maryland . . . Baltimore, to be exact! The last time these two teams met was December 12, 2005. The Terps won, 69-38.

If the seeds hold: Maryland's next opponent will be another red team, Nebraska, on Tuesday, March 25th.

Then, again assuming the seeds hold, it's on to Spokane! We have only two words for Terps fans . . . United . . . Airlines. Well, you can get there by other carriers, but UAL has the most flights with the fewest connections. Of course, you could drive.

All those bracketologists that we weren't paying much attention to had already ordained Stanford as the #1 seed in the Spokane Region, but they were wrong, as the selection committee made the Cardinal the #2 seed in that Region. This made for an interesting split screen on ESPN's selection show this evening, as both the Terps and the Cardinal were being shown live when Maryland's Number 1 seeding was announced. Needless to say, there were some pretty stunned expressions on the faces of the Stanford players and coaches . . . and some pretty happy grins on the faces of the Terps. Heck, we even saw Markus (or was it Tyler) giving the "we're #1" sign. And those of you who watched the broadcast undoubtedly heard one of the twins shouting "Whoo hoo!" while Mom B was on camera.

But, of course (sadly as we learned last year) you first have to play the games. Perhaps we are getting way too far ahead of ourselves now talking about the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite 8 match-ups. So, returning to our regular programming, here are the match-ups you'll see in College Park on Sunday (not in chronological order): Maryland vs Coppin State; Xavier vs Nebraska; Arizona State vs Temple; and last, but not least, Duke (!) vs Murray State.

So dust off your Easter Bonnets, don your Terrapin Red and we'll see you on Sunday!

* * * * * * *

(Tuesday AM) And more (good) news . . . yesterday, soon-to-be Terp Dee Liles was named WBCA JC/CC Player of the Year! Wow! Congratulations, Dee! And good luck in the NJCAA Championships, which begin today!

Live . . . It's Monday Night!

It's Selection Monday . . . and if that alone isn't enough to get you interested . . . this evening, the Terps will be one of four featured teams on ESPN's Selection Show broadcast (ESPN & ESPNHD at 7 PM) . Camera crews visited College Park last week, filming some inteviews and footage of the Terps and later today they will be broadcasting live from Coach B's house!

Not only will we learn where the Terps -- and the rest of the Gang of 64 -- will be going and who they'll be playing along the way, but we have it on the best authority that Markus and Tyler will be giving their first nationally televised on-camera interviews. You don't want to miss what they have to say about the brackets!

We already know the Terps will be playing their first two games at home in Comcast Center on March 23 and 25. But what we don't know is who they'll be facing in those first two games. We also don't yet know who else may be playing their first two rounds in College Park. Will UConn or the Lady Vols or Jeff Walz's Louisville Cardinals be landing soon at BWI? Well, we'll find out tonight.

But perhaps the bigger question to be answered is: after round 2 (don't even think about an early exit this year!), where will the Terps and some of their fans be heading then? Will they be going back to Greensboro . . . or out to Spokane . . . or to Oklahoma City . . . or down to the Big Not So Easy? And, more important, which teams will be in their bracket -- who stands between them and a return visit to the Final 4?

We don't traffic in the speculative bracketology that seems to consume so many these days, so while the Terps will be watching at Coach B's, we'll just be planted nervously in front of our TV (as we expect you will be, well, in front of your TV that is) tonight at 7 PM . . . tuned to the Selection Show on ESPN/ESPNHD, when all will be revealed!

By the way, ESPN's Selection Monday show will be hosted by the dynamic treo of Trey Wingo (not to be confused with Drey Mingo), Stacey "I love you Kristi Toliver" Dales, and Kara "Pee Wee football" Lawson. That should make the show even more fun.

By the way, it is March 17th, so the BasketCases wish a Happy St. Patrick's Day to all . . . and may the Luck of the Irish be with you, and especially with the Terps . . . tonight and throughout this Mad (but fun!) time of year!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Behind the Iron Curtain. Well, times have certainly changed. Remember when people literally risked their lives to escape from communist countries in Eastern Europe?

Perhaps some of you reading this are too young. But the BasketCases are old enough to recall a young Martina Navratilova fleeing her native Czechoslovakia for freedom, fame, and fortune in the United States of America. Lo and behold, more than three decades later, Martina has now returned to the Czech Republic and regained her Czech citizenship.

Not to be outdone, WNBA star Becky Hammon, who as far as we know grew up in and fled only from South Dakota (no disrespect to Megan Vogel, but why would you stay?), has now become . . . a Russian citizen!

Why, you might ask. Is Becky in love with subzero temperatures, snow, or Red Square? Has she discovered a certain penchant for blinis? (Perhaps!) Did she watch Dr. Zhivago too many times? The BasketCases aren't quite sure, but we do know that Becky's new Russian citizenship allows her to become a member of the Russian National Team and compete for Russia in this Summer's Olympic Games. Hhmmm.

All-American, blond, basketball-playing, girl-next-door, Becky Hammon . . . a Russian? Would someone please pass the vodka?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Baby Watch . . . two days later.

As you know from the BasketCases' report on Tuesday, the Mystics' starting point guard, Nikki Teasley, is pregnant. In this morning's Washington Post, Nikki T says that "[she]'ll miss a very small part of the season."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Another Baby Watch!!

For those who may not recognize her, the woman above (who seems to have borrowed a few no-longer needed items from Coach Frese's closet) is none other than the Mystics' starting point guard and former WNBA All-Star, Nikki Teasley. That's right . . . ! So just when we thought we were done with basketball-related baby watches for awhile, apparently we were WRONG!!! Some months from now, hopefully Nikki will be the Mom of a happy healthy baby. (Aside to Mark and Brenda: Playdate!)

Of course, while we congratulate Nikki, we can't deny that this presents a challenge to the Mystics, who will be missing a veteran starter this summer. But drama is the Mystics' middle name, so they're used to coping with the unexpected . . . and the organization already appears to be taking steps to deal with Nikki's unanticipated leave.

Today, in an apparent effort to secure some backup for Nikki T's backup, Diva Nikki Blue, the Mystics signed Minnesota Lynx PG (and former Boston College Eagle) Amber Jacobs to an offer sheet. The Lynx have until March 15 to decide whether to match DC's offer. If they don't, Jacobs joins the Mystics. If they do . . . well, on to plan B . . . whatever that is!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Third Time . . . not the charm. It's hard to beat any team three times in a season, and while the Terps managed to hit the trifecta against the Boston College Eagles yesterday, they fell short this afternoon against the more formidable Duke Blue Devils, who ended Maryland's dream of an ACC championship this year, 74-63.

Duke, which has underperformed for much of the season, really came alive during the last ten minutes or so of their game against Florida State on Friday, and carried that momentum into today's semi-final match against Maryland. Although the Terps started strong this afternoon, they were outplayed by Duke for most of the game, losing an early lead and never finding a way to regain control.

So Lang, Harp and the other seniors will leave Maryland with numerous records and accomplishments, including at least one Natty, but without realizing their dream of an ACC Championship. When Marissa left the game in the closing moments and hid her face in her jersey, that told us how bad she felt . . . especially the pain she was feeling for her teammates who won't get another chance to win in Greensboro.

And while as fans, it's never fun to see your team lose, more than anything, we just feel bad for the players.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Greensboro: Day 2

Early wake-up call . . . if you're an ACC fan, especially a member of the Maryland Rebounders Booster Club . . . 4 games today, all 4 of the seeded teams take the court. In other words, a very long day ahead.

Fortunately, there are not too many sartorial decisions necessary for Terps fans attending the ACC Tournament.

Over in the Coliseum, the Greensboro News & Record was handing out Team Signs to fans . . . EXCEPT signs for one team (see if you can figure out which one) . . . those signs had been held up at the printer. OK, if you believe that, the BasketCases have a bridge in Brooklyn we'd like to show you.

Finally, the 3rd game of the day tips off (in the earlier contests, the seeds held and both Virginia and the Heels advanced). The Terps win the tip against Boston College, score the first points of the game, and never trail.

For the first time since the beginning of the regular season, and less than three weeks after giving birth to twins (is she incredible or what?), Coach B "prowled" the sidelines.

And (on her feet) provided players with some one-on-one support and instruction.

And while Coach B was back in charge in the huddles, make no mistake, Coach Park was pretty busy as well, diagramming plays, encouraging and advising the players, and contributing to the T-E-A-M win.

Plenty of red-clad Terrapin fans . . . and family members (Harp's Mom, on the right) . . . were here (along with the BasketCases) to cheer on their favorite team and players.

Maryland beats Boston College for the 3rd time this season, 93-81. Every Maryland starter scored in double figures. Harp and Lang combined for 49 points, shooting an incredible 19 of 21 from the field. In fact, Harp was perfect from the field -- 8 of 8 (tying an ACC Tournament record) -- and almost perfect from the free throw line -- 9 0f 10. Wow!
Next up: Duke!

But the day didn't end after we left the Coliseum . . . every Maryland game at the ACC tourney is followed by a get-together of the Rebounders back at the hotel. Win or lose (mostly, win!) we just love talking Maryland Basketball.

And tonight's Rebounder get-together had a special guest . . . Mystics GM Linda Hargrove! (The Mystics hold the sixth overall pick in next month's WNBA draft, and Linda and Mystics Head Coach Tree Rollins are here at the tourney scouting WNBA prospects.) Linda, looking very smart in her Terrapin-red jacket, told the Terps' best fans that she too is a big fan of the Maryland senior-starters, Crystal Langhorne and Laura Harper. (And how could anyone not be?!) Many thanks to Linda for accepting the BasketCases' invitation to stop by the post-game social!

A long -- but fun fun fun -- day. A win. Duke tomorrow. Time to call it a night.

P.S. Go Cavs, beat UNC

Photo Credits: wardrobe: JEB; all others: DC BasketCases

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The BasketCases are Back In Greensboro and . . .

The Maryland Coaches are back . . . now at full strength . . . (and scouting the Virginia Tech/Boston College game . . . BC won, so the Terps play the Eagles tomorrow at 6pm)

The Maryland players and fans are back . . .

Lots of cheerleaders are back (FSU's shown here) . . .

The Media are back (Kathy Orton of the Washington Post, center) . . .

And, most fun of all (so far), the flying Cow is back too!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


We hate to "bump" our own coverage of the All-American honors that Sports Illustrated has just bestowed on Kristi Toliver, Marissa Coleman, and Crystal Langhorne, but there's even more great Terps news today . . .

Back in October, as readers will recall, Lang was named ACC Preseason Player of the Year. In the months since, Lang has not failed the voters -- or the fans. Despite an early season injury, she played an exceptional senior season (adding to her three prior exceptional seasons), and today Crystal was accorded the very great honor of being named ACC Player of the Year!

In a way, today's award adds a bookend to Lang's phenomenal Maryland career. As a freshman in March 2005, she was named ACC Rookie of the Year. Now, as a senior (with her collegiate career soon coming to a close), she will leave Maryland as ACC Player of the Year. The only other Terp ever to earn this honor was none other than the legendary Vicky Bullett.

Lang's extraordinary achievements during her four years at Maryland, and the records she has broken along the way (many of them Vicky's), have been recounted so many times there's no need for us repeat them now. Suffice it to say that #1 is one-of-a-kind, and we can't think of anyone more deserving of this wonderful honor.

Congratulations, Crystal Langhorne!!!

Photo Credit: University of Maryland Rebounders

All American Girls!!!

Kristi Toliver . . . a Sports Illustrated First Team All-American.

Marissa Coleman and Crystal Langhorne . . . SI Second Team All-Americans.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Still Setting Records. Although the regular season is now history (29-2 . . . wow), the Terps are still setting records -- individually and as a group.

Yesterday, Crystal Langhorne was named to the All-ACC first team, making her the only woman in Maryland history to be named to the All-ACC team four times . . . and to the first team three times! Congratulations, Crystal!

But Lang wasn't the only Maryland player to earn All-ACC first team honors. Uhh-uhh. Kristi Toliver, who's having an amazing season, was also named to the All-ACC first team. In fact, she and Lang tied for the most points and most first team votes received by anyone in the ACC!! Congratulations, Kristi!

Continuing with the individual accolades, Marissa Coleman was named to the All-ACC second team (for the third year in a row!), and Laura Harper earned All-ACC third team honors (too low in our opinion, but a great honor nevertheless). Congratulations, Marissa and Laura!

And if you total it up (wait a minute while we find a calculator) . . . that makes four Terps on the All-ACC team -- a school record! Congratulations, one and all!

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Voted for Crystal? Have you? Today? You do know that she's in the running for the Lowe's Senior Class Award, which honors a senior student-athlete for her chararcter and her contributions both on and off the court? Right? We hate to tell you, but at the moment she is waaayy behind!

Who's in the lead, you wonder? Candice Wiggins? No. Sylvia Fowles? Wrong again! Actually, 48% of the voters have cast their ballots for either Rebekah Parker (University of Evansville . . . you didn't vote for her, did you Rhet?) or Sarah Elliott (University of Kentucky) . . . 24% each. Crystal's percentage is only 5%!

So vote -- early and often!!! Well, you can only vote once a day . . . so vote early today, and early tomorrow and early the day after that, etc, etc. Come on, Terps fans . . . for a change, Crystal needs our help for a come-from-behind victory. Vote for Crystal!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

No Surprise . . . Maryland finished out the ACC regular season this afternoon with a win on the road at NC State, 76-64.

No Surprise either that four Terps (all the usual suspects . . . Harp, Lang, Marissa and Kristi) ended the game in double figures. And to no one's surprise, Harp (21 pts, 11 rbs), Lang (20 pts, 11 rbs) and Marissa (11 pts, 10 rbs) each notched double-doubles.

The only Surprise of the day was the unscheduled appearance on the bench of 2-week Mom-of-Twins, Coach Brenda Frese! The "official" word (reported by the media and repeated by the BasketCases) was that Coach B would be watching the game at home. But Surprise! . . . Coach B showed up at Reynolds Coliseum today to support her young ladies. According to the game's announcers, the Terps were not expecting her to be there and thought they were listening to an audio clip when they heard her voice this morning after shootaround. But to their (and our) pleasant Surprise, it was Coach B in the flesh. It's really good to know she's baaack! And if anyone had any doubt whether we'll be seeing Coach B in Greensboro on Friday, well, it would seem her appearance this afternoon would put that doubt to rest.

So next up for the Terps is the ACC Tournament. On Friday at 6 PM, the Terps face the winner of Thursday's first round contest between the #10 and #7 finishers in the ACC regular season standings. By the end of the day, we should know which two teams they will be.*** And, yes, to no one's Surprise, the BasketCases will be hitting the road on Thursday and will bring you all the action direct from Greensboro.
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***Boston College and Virginia Tech.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

And the Golden Twinkie Goes To . . . Robert Weintraub for his feature, "Such Madness," in Sunday's New York Times, available today on line!

Some of our long-time readers may recall that the BasketCases gave their first Golden Twinkie Award for Journalistic Accuracy to Lori Riley of the Hartford Courant for her exclusive report of Latvian star Zane (pronounced "Za-knee") Teilane's (pronounced "Tay-La-Knee") WNBA debut. There was only one problem with her report . . . Zane was on the bench --- in street clothes. The player whose action (and scoring!) Lori described was actually the Mystics' recently re-signed Nakia Sanford. As Mystics fans know, Zane and Kia do look a lot alike . . . they're both, umm, uhh, tall. And later, Steve Silver of the Washington Times earned a nomination for reporting that two Mystics players had fouled out of a game who, well, to be blunt, hadn't.

So what did Robert Weintraub do to earn his prestigious Golden Twinkie and join such esteemed journalistic company? Well, here's a quote from Robert's NYT preview (dated March 2, 2008) of upcoming women's action (aka March Madness) . . .

Maryland will test the motivational power of motherhood — Coach Brenda Frese is due to give birth to twins early this month. Her team is good enough to win it all, though it’s unclear how involved Frese will be in the tournament.
Congratulations, Robert! You have the distinction of being the only person (not to mention sports "journalist") in the developed world who obviously missed the fact that Coach B and Daddy-Cam operator Mark Thomas are the proud parents of two healthy baby boys -- born two weeks ago!

Robert, thanks for giving women's basketball fans everywhere a good chuckle . . . nothing quite like a little madness from a reporter to get the month of March started off on the right foot!
* * * * * * * *
In sharp contrast . . . the Baltimore Sun's Milton Kent, who actually does know what he's writing about, has a nice article today about Coach Park and the great job he's been doing filling in for Coach B.
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Sunday Morning Update. The BasketCases have never had to give out the Golden Twinkie Award twice in the same weekend, but there's a first time for everything. Perhaps Friday's Leap Day caused some sort of harmonic convergence of sports "journalists" tackling subjects with which they apparently lack much (if any) familiarity (that would be women's sports), but in addition to the fact that the Gray Lady's Robert Weintraub missed one of the most publicized double childbirths in recent history, Edward G. Robinson III of the Raleigh News & Observer missed an entire season of Crystal Langhorne's storied career, referring to her in his preview of today's NC State game as a "junior forward." Would that it were true and we could have Lang for another season in College Park!

No Bikinis. Women don't usually make it onto the pages of Sports Illustrated unless of course they are wearing swimsuits, but Crystal Langhorne is special enough to have gotten's attention while wearing a basketball jersey. And Todd McElwee of the Press Box out in Baltimore is also pretty impressed by Lang (even if he does have a little trouble telling Marah Strickland from Marissa Coleman).

Looking Ahead. Tomorrow's game at NC State may be Maryland's last regular season game, but the Terps know that it won't be their last game this year, and so are using it as preparation for their postseason play. By the way, tomorrow is Senior Day for Kay Yow's Wolfpack, so Terps fans should expect to see a fired-up NC State team battling to upset the higher-ranked Terrapins.

Meanwhile, two-week Mom Coach B will be watching Sunday's matchup against the Wolfpack the same way that the BasketCases will be . . . on television (1 PM, Comcast Sports Net). Coach Park will continue to lead the Terps on the road. And since their hospital room reportedly did not get the cable channel showing the Duke game on the afternoon of their birth, we suspect that tomorrow's will be the first away game little Markus and Tyler will get to see ex-utero.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases